Like the majority of our senses, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of good hearing until you no longer have it. The lockdowns over the past year have given us all an insight into how crucial socialising with our friends and family is. But what happens when your ability to communicate well is always difficult? We’re seeing first-hand the effect that a lack of or reduction in socialisation has on our mental health and wellbeing, however this is something that 1 in 6 people in the UK face through hearing loss on a daily basis, with the World Health Organisation recently predicting that this number will increase to 1 in 4 by 2050.
This isolation has been further compounded with the physical impediment of masks, making it impossible for any lip reading to be relied on unless a specific clear mask is used. Add to that the increase in virtual technology and the difficulty in hearing conversations over Zoom and Teams calls and it’s understandable how anyone dealing with a hearing loss can feel frustrated, isolated and more lonely than they would have done before the pandemic. But hearing loss doesn’t have to be a defining part of life and the experts at House of Hearing have more than 100 years of combined experience in helping to overcome these problems.
Phillip Page, Senior Audiologist at House of Hearing, “We all know the value of keeping our bodies fit and healthy, but it is just as important to keep your hearing and ears in great shape, as there is such a close link to our cognitive ability. We want people to enjoy life to the fullest.”
Good hearing health is really important to our mental wellbeing. Our ability to communicate with each other is something that we take for granted but it is our hearing that is at the heart of that dialogue. If you think about it, we learned to talk only by listening to those around us, so it is only natural that our hearing remains an important sense when taking part in socialising with others.
Phillip believes that it is worth changing your mindset. He encourages “Think of booking a hearing appointment in a similar way to visiting the dentist for your oral health, doing everything you can before any issues arise, whatever your age.”
Many of us will only miss our hearing once it starts to deteriorate so we can’t be surprised that we take for granted how easily we communicate with each other when it works well. There have been many years of research that point to the importance of good hearing and there is now evidence for the link between untreated hearing loss and increased chances of dementia. Untreated hearing loss remains one of the modifiable risk factors that can impact on mental health through people withdrawing from social interaction*. This means that we don’t have to accept that hearing loss will make life worse for us or those closest to us. We can do something about it.
Unfortunately, the events of the last year have created a huge demand for all NHS services including Audiology, which has resulted in longer than usual waiting times. At the time of writing this much is being spoken about the additional waiting time for even routine checks like hearing tests. House of Hearing has remained open throughout the lockdowns in order to support our NHS colleagues as much as possible and to provide somewhere for existing and new patients to quickly access expert hearing care throughout Scotland.
So, what should you do if you feel like you or a loved one is struggling to hear as well as they could? Our advice is to have your hearing checked by one of our Senior Audiologists. With free fully comprehensive hearing health assessments offered at all of our clinics (Edinburgh, Galashiels, Perth, St Andrews and Morpeth) all you need to do is book in for a hearing health assessment, where we will not just check your hearing but also the general health of your ear.
It may be that you are just suffering from excess ear wax in which case a member of our ENT nurse-led wax team of specialists will be able to advise immediately on the best course of action for you. Our Edinburgh clinic is the only wax removal clinic in Scotland to be registered with Healthcare Improvement Scotland and we ensure these high standards are kept at all of our other House of Hearing clinics, giving you and your family the reassurance that you are being seen by a fully qualified professional.
If ear wax is not the issue, then a measurement of how well you hear at differing frequencies will quickly reveal where the problem lies. Your audiologist can then advise on the appropriate course of action or arrange for onward referral to your G.P. if appropriate.
*Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission